5 Essential Terms for Homebuyers

5 Essential Terms for Homebuyers
Published on January 9, 2024

In the intricate world of real estate, navigating the market can be daunting, especially for first-time homebuyers. To make informed decisions and feel confident in your real estate journey, familiarize yourself with key terms. Whether you’re planning to buy, sell, or invest, understanding these five essential real estate terms will empower you throughout the process.


An appraisal is a professional assessment of a property’s market value conducted by a licensed appraiser. This expert evaluates various factors, including the condition, location, and comparable sales. The appraisal is crucial during a home purchase because it determines the property’s fair market value. Lenders use this information to decide how much money they will lend you. As a buyer, you want the appraised value to align with the agreed-upon purchase price. If there’s a significant difference, negotiations may be necessary.

Closing Costs

Closing costs are the fees and expenses of finalizing a real estate transaction. These costs cover a range of services, including title searches, appraisals, legal fees, and lender charges. Budgeting for closing costs in addition to your down payment is essential. Typically, closing costs are 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price. Understanding and preparing for these expenses ensures you know the closing date. The buyer and the seller can negotiate closing costs as part of the offer and counteroffer process. In a buyer’s market, sellers may be more willing to cover certain costs to close the deal. In a seller’s market, the buyer may have less negotiating power.


“Escrow” refers to a neutral third party that holds and manages funds during a real estate transaction. This intermediary ensures a smooth process by safeguarding the buyer’s earnest money and managing the disbursement of funds upon meeting all conditions outlined in the transaction. The escrow period is a critical phase in a real estate transaction, providing a secure and organized way to handle the deal’s financial aspects. It minimizes the risks for both the buyer and the seller, fostering trust and transparency. Falling out of escrow happens when the agreement between the buyer and the seller falls apart before closing occurs. Implications can be due to the following:

  • Financing issues
  • Appraisal discrepancies
  • Home inspection concerns
  • Title issue
  • Contingency expiration
  • Buyer’s remorse

If a property were to fall out of escrow, it would go back on the market.

Down Payment

A down payment is a lump sum of money paid upfront by the buyer when purchasing a home. This payment represents a percentage of the property’s total cost and serves as a commitment from the buyer. The most common down payment percentage is 20% of the home’s purchase price. However, some programs may allow a lower down payment, especially for first-time homebuyers. A substantial down payment can improve your chances of securing a mortgage with favourable terms and lower monthly payments. Understanding this term is crucial for budgeting and planning your home purchase.


Amortization is gradually paying off a debt, such as a mortgage, through regular payments over a specified period. The amortization schedule outlines how each payment contributes to the principal (the initial loan amount) and the interest. In the early years of a mortgage, a more significant portion of the mortgage payment goes toward interest. In contrast, more funds go towards the principal in later years. Understanding amortization helps you grasp the long-term financial commitment of homeownership and plan for future expenses.

Mastering these five real estate terms is a solid foundation for anyone entering the housing market. Empowered with this knowledge, you can confidently navigate the complexities of real estate transactions and make well-informed decisions on your journey to homeownership. Happy house hunting!

Written by:

Royal LePage Meadowtowne Realty
6948 Financial Drive, Mississauga, ON L5N 8J4 (905) 821-3200

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